Monthly Archives: November 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Movie:  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Rating:  4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) is a driven woman.  Months ago her teenage daughter Angela (Kathryn Newton) was brutally raped and murdered, and the police haven’t a clue.  Fueled by rage, despair and self loathing, Mildred decides to take matters into her own hands to shake things loose.  She scrapes together $5,000 to put a taunting challenge to police chief William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) on three billboards in town, and then waits for the backlash.

As expected, Chief Willoughby is quick to react to the message on the billboards.  Problem is, he has no clues to work with, plus he has his own problems to deal with.  The rest of the Ebbing police force is not too happy with Mildred, especially hot tempered officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell).  Mildred soon finds out that the police can make life miserable for her and people close to her, but she can dish it out with the best of them.  All of which makes a small town like Ebbing boil over with resentment as tempers flair.  But Mildred cares not what anybody thinks of her, as she is hell-bent on finding a killer.  Perhaps folks in Ebbing should have heeded Confucius when he wisely stated, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

This film has been marketed as a dark comedy.   Forget that.  This is heavy duty drama like a solid punch to your gut.  This is story telling at it’s best, and will keep viewers in the audience glued to their seats, waiting for the next development.  Absolutely riveting acting, with a sure Best Actress nomination for Frances McDormand.  There could be two Best Supporting Actor nominations for Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.  For discriminating film fans who gripe about the lack of quality stories in movies today, do not miss this film.  It has Best Picture nomination written all over it.  See it.

Mini Trailers:   Mildred – “How much to rent for a year?  Here’s $5,000.  Here’s what the billboards should say.”

Chief Willoughby – “Do you really want to f*ck with the Ebbing Police Department?”  Mildred – “I guess.  My daughter Angela was abducted, raped and murdered.”

Officer Dixon – “You can’t say n*gger torturing no more.  You got to say person of color torturing.”

Priest – “The town is dead set against these billboards of yours.  Nobody is with you with this.”  Mildred – “Why don’t you just finish up your tea, father, and get the f*ck out of my kitchen.”

Mildred – “You ain’t trying to make me believe in reincarnation, are you?  You’re pretty, but you’re not her.”

Officer Dixon – “I don’t know what the compensation scheme is for throwing a guy out the window.”

Mildred’s Son – “Shouldn’t we call the fire department?”  Mildred – “F*ck the fire department.  They probably started it.”

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LBJ

Movie:   LBJ

Rating:   4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   In 1960 the Democratic Party was in a state of upheaval, with several prominent figures such as Senators Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson (Woody Harrelson), and former Governor Adlai Stevenson as most likely to come out of the pack to become the nominee for the presidency.  Instead, the youthful junior senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy (Jeffrey Donovan), became the nominee and went on to win the closely contested election over Richard Nixon.  In order to win the election, Kennedy realized he had to carry Texas, and so Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson was asked to be the vice president on the Democratic ticket.

Once in the Oval Office, President Kennedy and his brother Bobby Kennedy (Michael Stahl-David) had reservations about bringing the vice president into the inner circle of their closest advisors when policy was being formulated.  While Johnson had been valuable to get votes in the election, he was seen as a southerner who was not part of the Camelot vision to improve the country, especially in terms of civil rights.  Johnson was aware of this stigma, and did his best to  corral support for President Kennedy’s policies by means of his many political connections and procedural savvy.  Then came that fateful day on November 23, 1963, when the oft maligned vice president was thrust into the office of the presidency.  How President Johnson acted in his time in office was to have a significant impact on the nation for years to come, especially in the area of civil rights.

This is a powerful film by director Rob Reiner, part biography of LBJ, and part historical drama relating the events behind the choosing of Johnson as vice president, and explaining Johnson’s success in maneuvering bills through the Senate and signed into law.  Johnson was often vulgar in his dealings with people, but the man possessed a shrewd intelligence that made him a master of negotiating within the political system.  One can only wonder why such individuals are not found in today’s Congress with it’s total gridlock on legislative action.  A powerful film that is riveting for anyone with an interest in history.  Woody Harrelson turns in a dramatic performance that deserves a Best Actor Oscar nomination.

Mini Trailers:  Johnson to Sen Dirksen – “Senator, can we bring this bill to the floor without our parties nipping at each other’s heels like a pack of rabid dogs?”

Johnson watching JFK on TV – “I have never seen a politician look that good on TV.”  Wife Lady Bird – “He’s not that handsome.”

Johnson – “If you don’t take me down in the first two rounds, you’re going to lose.”  Bobby Kennedy – “There won’t be a second round.”  Johnson – “You sound awfully confident.”  Bobby Kennedy – “I can count.”

Johnson – “I could walk across the Potomac River, and the next day newspaper headlines would say, “Johnson Can’t Swim!”” 

JFK to Advisors – “It is your job to placate the vice president.  I don’t care if you have to kiss his ass all over town!”

Johnson – “The southerners don’t speak Kennedy, and the Kennedys don’t speak southern.  I am the only one fluent in both languages.”

Bobby Kennedy – “Well Lyndon, if you are insistent on taking the oath right away, then take the damn oath!”

President Johnson Discussing the Civil Rights Bill – “This time they’ll be fighting two presidents.  Never underestimate the martyr’s cause, and the size of a Texan’s balls.”

President Johnson addressing Congress – “John Kennedy gave people hope.  We are going to give people results.”

LBJ Stuff – Lyndon Johnson was sometimes referred to as “Landslide Lyndon” in reference to his much disputed initial victory to a Senate seat by 87 votes.  He was frequently vulgar in his speech and habits with his aids and associates.  It was stated in David Halberstam’s book, The Best and the Brightest,” that Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon resigned his office after President Johnson insisted on conducting business while seated on the toilet.